It’s raining and there’s nothing about even if it wasn’t rainging so ..........
Well the Lions side for the first test has been announced and I thought I’d pen some thoughts before rather than after the match (when it’s a little easier to predict the outcome). As I said before I hope the Lions will win but I really do have serious doubts. The Lions as a team have not looked that impressive in their warm up matches and managed to lose the last one to the Brumbies and were on the backfoot for much of the gane against the Reds. The other problem is that most of the opposition has been rubbish and it’s been difficult to tell who is or who isn’t in form.......until the Brumbies that is.
So what of the selection:
Halfpenny – no question he’s been the star of the show.
Cuthbert and North – North no question, the best winger we have, Cuthbert in contrast has been poor and doesn’t deserve the place, most of the time he’s looked as if he’s been sulking and didn’t want to be there.
O’Driscoll and Davies – do we have any other centres left standing? I didn’t think O’Driscoll should be on the tour and Davies whilst looking a good player also looks slow so I don’t see this as a pairing to worry the Aussies.
Sexton – predictable. Farrell is strong in the tackle and kicks the goals brilliantly but no sign he can pull the strings required.
Phillips – just about there but Ben Youngs hasn’t done anything wrong (other than being picked for the Brumbies game!)
Adam Jones – seen to be the best tight head but does absolutely nothing else. Cole should have got the nod. He’s a good a prop and does a lot more work around the field. Jones could have been on the bench and come on if Cole got in trouble (with the ref more likely than the opposition).
Tom Youngs – I think he’s done just about enough to get the nod over Hibbert. Best was not and should not be considered. Youngs will carry and tackle well but as I implied there’s not much in it.
Corbisiero – only been out there 5 minutes but probably should have been there all along. A very good prop but I would have gone with Vunipola. He’s been one of the stand-out props for me and an important ball carrier. Still he’s on the bench and could make more of an impact as the game wears on.
Jones and O’Connell – no competition really other than Parling though neither fill me with confidence. An area where the Aussies could have a real advantage.
Croft, Warburton and Hislip – I see this an area where we could really be taken to the cleaners. I don’t think Warburton is playing well, he’s not carrying at all, I haven’t seen him win much on the floor so all he’s done is tackle (and others have done that better) Tippuric should have got the nod.
Hislip has been the best No.8 but I still don’t have faith in him. He looked good against the weak opposition the Lions have experienced to date but I think he will fade when the opposition gets better. Croft – I don’t like Croft. He doesn’t do a blindside wing forwards job. He’s good in the line out and can score wide out ....but we have wingers for that.
On the bench (and not mentioned) Parling’s been good in the lineout but lacking in bulk (as is Alun-Win Jones). Dan Lydiate is lucky to get a place I’ve not seen him do anything. Sean Maitland WHAT!!!!! Absolutely stupid selection I know he's only just arrived but Zebo should have got the place.
What of the Aussies – O’Connor at flyhalf is a gamble (I would have gone with the Brumbies flyhalf who’s name eludes me). The Lions should dominate the front row but that rarely leads to a victory on it’s own (I’m English and should know). In the second row and backrow I think the Aussies will be superior.
In the centre the Aussies to shade it and on the wings I expect a ding dong battle so no prediction.
All in all I predict a Lions defeat and if the Aussie front row do quite well it could be by a decent margin.